Corporate Volunteering: 4 Steps to Creating Your Program
Corporate volunteering can help your company improve its social impact and expand its reach. Explore how to create a well-designed volunteering program.
Corporate philanthropy has become increasingly important for modern businesses. By making a positive impact on society, companies are able to better connect with their customers and engage employees. One prominent way that companies are powering change through their communities is through corporate volunteering.
Corporate volunteering is business-led volunteer work that empowers employees to give back to the causes they care about most. By donating their time, employees will feel more fulfilled, leading to greater productivity in the workplace.
Whether you’re looking to jumpstart or revamp your corporate philanthropy program, corporate volunteering is the perfect place to start. A strong corporate volunteer program can help you give back to the community, boost customer loyalty, and retain employees for the long term.
Follow these steps to launch a successful corporate volunteering program:
- Set concrete goals
- Gather employee suggestions
- Choose a workplace giving platform
- Plan volunteering opportunities
Corporate volunteering takes time to plan and execute, but it’s well worth the time and effort. Let’s begin.
1. Set concrete goals
Corporate volunteering can look very different between businesses, so you have to develop a program that makes the most sense for your employees, community, and company as a whole. To get started, set clear goals that address what your company hopes to accomplish with its corporate volunteer program.
According to Aly Sterling Philanthropy’s guide to corporate volunteering, these objectives should align with your company’s mission and the overarching goals for your corporate philanthropy program. Consider the following questions to give you more insight:
- What is your company passionate about outside of its business operations?
- What are your company’s values?
- What are your employees’ values, and do they align with your company’s values?
- What skills do your employees possess that can translate well into volunteer work?
- What organizations can we support in our community?
As you start to develop your goals, make sure they’re as specific as possible. For example, your company may decide that it wants to volunteer with the local animal shelter. To make your goal SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound), consider how many volunteer hours you’ll facilitate at the shelter, how you’ll track participation, and a timeline for achieving this goal.
A SMART goal creates accountability and makes it more likely that progress will occur. If this is your first time leading a corporate volunteering program, don’t set unrealistic expectations. Make your goals reasonable yet challenging so your team can work together to achieve its objectives.
2. Gather employee suggestions
Employees are the heart of your corporate volunteer program, so it makes sense to involve them in the planning process. Allowing your employees to voice their opinions helps them feel valued and makes it more likely that your new corporate philanthropy initiative will be successful.
To gather employee suggestions, create and send a survey with the following questions:
- What causes are you passionate about?
- What organizations are you interested in supporting in the community?
- When are you available to volunteer?
- Are there new skills that you would like to learn through volunteering?
- Do you have any barriers to volunteering, and if so, how could we remediate them?
These questions will help you build a program relevant to employees’ interests, therefore boosting participation and employee retention. Plus, you’ll be able to proactively remove any roadblocks and work with different employees’ schedules to accommodate the largest number of volunteers.
For example, employees that commute to your workplace or work remotely may prefer to also volunteer remotely. You can then look for opportunities that offer both in-person and online volunteering at flexible times.
3. Choose a workplace giving platform
Once your corporate volunteering program launches, your business will need a way to collect and organize data such as volunteer hours, number of volunteers, and more. According to Double the Donation, a workplace giving platform can help your business track these important metrics so you can work toward your goals.
A workplace giving platform can also vet potential nonprofit partners and different local opportunities, reassuring your employees that they’re working for reputable organizations. Plus, you can leverage your workplace giving platform to organize planned shifts, shift capacities, and registrations.
A great corporate philanthropy example that your business can add to your corporate volunteering program and manage with a workplace giving platform is volunteer grants. Volunteer grants are donations that your business gives after employees volunteer a certain number of hours. With your workplace giving platform, you can easily approve and process volunteer grant requests in one centralized system.
4. Plan volunteering opportunities
Now that you’ve established goals and set up a foundation for your corporate volunteer program, it’s time to make it come to life. You can start by conducting outreach to local nonprofits and asking what type of volunteer support they need. Alternatively, speak with employees at your business that already have connections with local nonprofits and ask them to introduce your business.
Volunteering can take many different forms, so consider offering opportunities that are:
- In-person. Group volunteering in-person is a great way for employees to bond outside of the workplace. Organize a time to volunteer that works well for everyone in the group and schedule carpooling to make transportation simple. For example, on a day that everyone is in the office, you can plan a group volunteer trip on your lunch break or right after work.
- Virtual. Many nonprofits are happy to receive virtual support, such as virtual fundraising tech support, assistance with peer-to-peer fundraising, and database organization. Employees can work together at set times or do these activities asynchronously.
- Hybrid. Combine these two forms of support to maximize impact and make volunteering convenient for employees. For example, employees may choose to volunteer in-person together once a month but provide virtual support weekly. If employees have busy schedules outside of work, your business can also offer volunteer time off (VTO), or paid leave during the workday to volunteer with charitable organizations.
Make sure your volunteering opportunities are engaging and relevant to your employees’ interests. This will help drive attendance and improve your employees’ experience at your company. If possible, work with more than one nonprofit so employees’ different passions can be met.
Optimize corporate philanthropy with a volunteer program
Corporate volunteering can take your corporate philanthropy program to the next level. Use these tips to develop a robust volunteering culture that engages employees, strengthens your ties to the community, and allows you to connect with consumers.
To streamline the planning process, your company can work with a corporate philanthropy consultant. A consultant can help your business align its corporate volunteering initiatives with your long-term business goals, strengthening your company as a whole.